Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

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Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

by Ayelet Waldman

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2006, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2007, 352 pages

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Once a year for the last five years, former public defender Ayelet Waldman has turned out a volume in her Mommy Track mystery series, starring Juliet Applebaum, ex-public defender and "self-employed mother". In mystery genre terms the Mommy Track books are best described as 'cozies' (mysteries with low body counts, with the murders usually committed off stage - or at least not graphically described!).

However, in 2003 she broke the mold and published Daughter's Keeper, a politically charged novel about a woman's battle with the American legal system's inflexible drug laws; and returned in 2006 with Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. In parallel to her books she's also an outspoken blogger and has written a number of essays, many of them relatively controversial and hard-hitting (it's interesting to browse through these in chronological order to see how her voice as a writer has developed over time).

Then, in March 2005 she found herself in the middle of a maelstrom following the publication of an essay in The New York Times (first published in an anthology titled Because I Said So), in which she claimed to love her husband, Michael Chabon, more than her children. Actually, if you read the essay, what she says is rather more subtle than that, but that is how her words were interpreted when the likes of Oprah Winfrey and countless 'bloggers' jumped into the debate over whether Waldman was a "self-justifying narcissist" or just a "bad mother".

Before you prejudge Waldman as either the writer of light-weight mysteries or as "that woman", take a few moments to read the essay that triggered the controversy at her website.

This article was originally published in February 2006, and has been updated for the January 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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